Baked chicken and ham pancake
PUBLISHED: 13:08 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 15:40 04 March 2014
Working in a building that has housed a restaurant since 1963, nostalgia is always going to play a big part in our business.
Though we’ve tried to move with the times – there’s no prawn cocktail, T-bone steak or Black Forest on the menu these days – it’s a constant source of pleasure that people associate our culinary home with such special memories.
Recently we’ve had lady celebrating a 65th birthday who had her 21st here, the 25th wedding anniversary at the venue where they got engaged.
Food memories are an integral part of people’s wistful thinking, though as ever with memory, I think it’s fairly selective.
Today’s recipe is a stalwart from my very first days in a kitchen, I probably made more of these between 1977 and 1983 than I had hot staff dinners.
It was always on the menu at The Imperial Hotel on Great Yarmouth’s seafront, where I first began my cooking career and, despite modern trends, the building of a new terrace restaurant last year and brand new kitchen this year, it’s still on the menu and remains the most popular order.
Of course, if there’s a good dish going I’ll always steal the idea - so the chicken and ham pancake has appeared at the Pigs and The Assembly House, even, on occasions, on the Lavender House Sunday lunch menu!
Normally I’d tweak a recipe to give it a bit of Hughes magic and the opportunity to claim it as my own, however with the pancake it’s faithfully recreated just as it was in 1977.
For a time, it was incredibly fashionable to re-jig old classics in a new guise. The baked Alsaka, the Rossini, the aforementioned Black Forest Gateau and the duck a l’orange have all been seen of late, deconstructed, subjected to a 20-minute makeover or completely re-hashed. I’ve been guilty of it in the past.
However the clue is surely in the term “classic”, it’s better to leave these dishes alone and serve them as they should be, or is that just not “cheffy” enough?
As you will see in this month’s new Norfolk Night and Day column (see page xx), I’d always choose this on a return to my old stomping ground as I attempt to recreate my teenage years alongside a very late mid-life crisis. Thankfully, I can now cook ever so slightly better that I did as a 16-year-old!
Richard Hughes is chef proprietor of the Lavender House at Brundall and the Richard Hughes Cookery School. He is also director of the Pigs Pub at Edgefield and The Assembly House, Norwich.
Makes six pancakes
50g plain flour
400ml chicken stock
150g diced cooked chicken
150g diced cooked ham
Salt and pepper
100ml whipping cream
50g grated mature cheddar
125g plain flour
1 Poach the chicken with a onion, bay leaf, thyme and water. A chicken breast will take approx 20 minutes at gas 180C to cook.
2 Prepare the pancake batter: Whisk the flour, egg and milk to make a batter.
4 Stir some chopped fresh herb; I’m using parsley.
5 Make the veloute sauce: Melt the butter, add the flour. Cook over a moderate heat for three minutes, stirring frequently.
6 Remove the chicken from the oven and strain off the liquid.
7 Use this liquid to make the sauce, stirring into the butter and flour,
8 Add the stock a little at time, stirring vigorously.
9 Chop the cooked ham.
10 Chop the cooked chicken.
11 Add the sauce. Season to taste.
12 Fry the pancakes in a small, heavy, non-stick frying pan with a little oil.
13 Flip when golden brown, making them as thin as possible.
14 Add a good dessertspoon of the filling into the centre of the pancake.
15 Fold over the edges and roll tightly.
16 Pour over the double cream.
17 Sprinkle with the mature cheddar.
18 Bake at 180C for 15 minutes until golden brown.